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By Jordi in public

This is something I wrote a while ago on a Bitbucket bug post. Since then, I’ve close my Bitbucket account, and I still haven’t found satisfactory free hg hosting. I have this, but it feels very makeshift and temporary. I don’t care too much about all the bells and whistles like bug tracker and wiki. I never used that. I just want to have some hosting, and I want someone else to take maintain it, for a fee, if necessary.

I’m reproducing this because Bitbucket might some day decide to take down my request which is currently public, because free software needs free tools and I still want a free commercial hg hosting. If you know of someone, please let me know.


(Reported by jordigh on 2011-09-27)

I hope you hear me out. I hope someone with some decision power hears me out.

Right now, Bitbucket is not free. When Bitbucket has functionality that I dislike, I am not free to implement suggestions for you. At best, I can beg and argue with you when you decide that my suggestion is not a good one. If Bitbucket were free, I could go and implement it and show you, “see, this is how it could work, what do you think?” I could have much more leverage with which to help Bitbucket be better if it were free.

I was told that Bitbucket is not free because it is commercial. I do not understand why this is an explanation. Red Hat is free and commercial. Some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Gitorious is free and commercial despite more directly competing with a behemoth like github. From what we know of their finances, both of these are successful commercial ventures. And they are free.

I am not asking you to give up your trademark, your savoir-faire, your brand image, your hosting, your servers. Ultimately, all of this is what you really sell, just like Red Hat sells support and Gitorious sells support and hosting. I only see you adding value to Bitbucket if you make it free.

Hell, I will pay for access to the source. As much as 50, no, 100 USD per month for a premium source access subscription. Make it so that only premium subscribers have read access to the master Bitbucket repository. I will pay for the privilege to collaborate with you instead of begging you to make changes and arguing with you when you decide WONTFIX, HOLD, LATER, NOTABUG, CANTREPRODUCE.

Make it AGPL. If I or anyone else decides to run off with the source and make a knockoff site (which, btw, I haven’t seen happen with gitorious yet, perhaps you have?), your source won’t give us a competitive advantage, because we won’t have the service, hosting, trademark, brand name, and support you actually sell. Give me the opportunity to buy another product from you.

As it is stands right now, I am not happy with Bitbucket. I think it has potential, but I can’t fix it when it doesn’t work. Every user of this site is a developer. Every user is a potential collaborator, moreso than any other kind of software. We hackers also like to hack with our and on our tools. We are already writing code. We all give you our source. You don’t give us yours. We gave you Mercurial, Python, Pygments, Django. Please give us Bitbucket.

Collaborate with us. Share source like we share it with you. Make it free.

Charles McLaughlin

written 2011-09-27

* Changed status from new to wontfix.

Hi Jordi,

Thanks for your suggestion and the offer to hack on our code. This has come up before, for instance in issue #1566. You make some great points, but we still don’t have any immediate plans to open source the entire code base. For starters, we link against Mercurial, so if we distribute the code it would become GPL. If we wanted to sell a “behind the firewall” version of Bitbucket with a different license we would need to rewrite a significant amount of code and possibly shell out to hg to avoid linking. Since Atlassian bought Bitbucket a year ago we’ve added hundreds of improvements, stabilized and improved performance, and scaled the infrastructure to handle huge increases in users and repositories. That’s were our focus is, but we are committed to the open source community.

While this doesn’t satisfy your request, as we develop new features we’re open sourcing as much as possible. Here’s an example:

http://blog.bitbucket.org/2011/05/17/tracking-slow-requests-with-dogslow/

And there’s more to come.

Regards,

Charles

(written 2011-10-03 on by jordigh)

First of all, thanks for at least giving me a complete answer instead of simply dismissing me as a lunatic.

A few scraps of free software unrelated to the functionality I actually care to influence or modify don’t serve my needs, you are correct. I find scraps to not be a strong commitment to free software. I want the whole thing. Paying for it, like I said.

As to linking to the GPLed hg code, I suggested using the AGPL, which as you know, is much stronger copyleft compatible with the GPL. That way, you don’t have to rewrite anything (and it’s arguable if you can avoid copyleft by using a different interface), and if someone forks off your code, the source alone won’t give them an unfair advantage since they can’t add modifications to it and use it publicly unless they share them back to you.

I really think the real value is the hosting and the maintenance. And being able to submit patches. I see you as selling your services. If I could have those things, I would be happiest with bitbucket. I have my own hg hosting, but it’s a pain to maintain, and I would be happy if I could pay someone else to do it.

As for influencing your direction of development, I’m very disappointed to have received an email today about things you have implemented, none of which I want or need, and at least one that alarms me (git…?).

Furthermore, I’m hosting some GNU development on bb. I can no longer do that in good conscience. Since you don’t offer what I want, and I can’t influence what you are doing with the website except with ineffective pleading and arguing, I will be working this week on moving my work off bitbucket, closing my account, and maintaining my own hosting elsewhere. I’m sorry it has come to this.

Good luck with that git.

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4 Responses

  1. This is a little convoluted, I know, but you could try hg-git with gitorious. That way you get the best of both worlds (or worst :P).

    • The bridge between hg and git is imperfect and will always be imperfect. I do usually clone git repos with hg-git nowadays, but I am much happier when the remote repo is also hg. Cloning git with hg produces a repo that looks a little foreign with tons of bookmarks.



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